Hi. I was at TEDxChristchurch today. If you couldn’t make it, The Press was live streaming the day on their website, and videos will be up on TEDxChristchurch’s website soon. Coming to TEDx each year is like watching a child grow up because the quality of the event gets better every year – like design of the slides introducing speakers, audience participation methods, and the name tag/programme.
Here’s why you need to watch the videos of the talks when they go online… (And also because I’ve missed bits, I’ve misinterpreted and I’ve probably misquoted a little.)
Now today, you’re part of a truly remarkable global phenomenon. Around the world, thousands of people have been gathering in meetings to experience the power of ideas. The surprising thing about today’s meeting is that we here at TED have had almost nothing to do with it. We lent our name, our format, a few simple guidelines and some of our content. But the really hard work to make today happen has been down to your local organizers. And we’re truly in awe of the passion and dedication they’ve shown to make something like this work. Thank you to you too for taking the time out to come and be part of this exciting conversation about our shared future. Please write and tell us what you make of the event today. But for now, on with the show. -Chris Anderson
Kaila Colbin thanks the alcohol sponsors who’ll make sure everyone’s too sloshed to care if this all goes badly and admits that TEDxEQChCh is probably the most cumbersome event name ever. The event opened with a performance from Joe Castillo, who was beamed in from overseas, and Ariana Tikao.
Change has to start on a grassroots level. That means every single one of us. CERA etc. are full of smart people, but they aren’t going to read our minds. Do we want decisions to be made for us?
Give the displaced residents control over condemned buildings. If they want to, we need to let them into their yellow and red stickered buildings for a short period of time if they sign a waiver. They need to be there when their building is demolished. People need to be able to go through the rubble piece by piece and recover what they want from their home or business.
Give the displaced residents control over their rebuild—phone numbers of builders and workmen working on their new home so it gets built or repaired quickly. Let them manage the process and funds themselves.
Let’s make sure we have a record of what people are feeling. People will want to look back on memories recorded in the years to come.
We want more green, people, pedestrians and trees in the new Christchurch. We want less traffic.
Fill in the gaps that have been created. They can be more than a Wilson’s car park. Some gaps will have to stay gaps because they can’t be built on again, but this gives us options for amazing green community spaces.
We don’t want to be a city of commuters and consumers. We want to be a city of communities.
The first thing to fix is the building codes. Can we retrofit buildings with rollers so they roll with earthquakes like San Fransisco did with their City Hall?
Christchurch and San Fransisco both saw neighborhoods band together. Let’s train rescue and recovery teams in all neighborhoods. Give them the skills they need to help each other get through.
Bob Parker is here at the Aurora Centre for the third time recently. The first two times were for memorial services because of the earthquake, but this time it’s for something optimistic. Ideas are being shared about how we will move forward.
“We need to grieve and acknowledge what we’ve lost before moving on. The hardest thing is seeing an empty city—it’s not buildings, cafes and cars that make a city, it’s the people that live, work and breathe within it. As Nicholson has been walking within the central city he’s had to look twice, it’s disconcerting that almost all of the buildings in the central city are unstable or on a lean.”
Hugh’s wearing the central city’s uniform—a hi-vis vest. Christchurch is the only city in the world where you wear a hi-vis vest so you don’t stand out. His love affair with brick is now over. He showed photos of behind the cordon. The photos don’t do the devastation justice. There is rubble on all sides of you, including underfoot. There’s the smell of rotting food. The central city is silent except for the birds singing. There are no people. A photo was shown of workmen busting out the windows of the Brannigans building because the glass was deemed too hazardous to stay.
About 10,000 people attended the Share An Idea community expo. 40,000 ideas were shared.
How long should a building last? 100 years? What will be our perfect city in 100 years?
After Hurricane Katrina, Architecture for Humanity lived in the area and witnessed the issues around re-homing misplaced residents. In Biloxi, Architecture for Humanity got homes designed and built in six weeks. We need a community led design process. Even the craziest ideas are important, like solar powered camels. People care about the small things like: how do I get my business started, how do I get home? There needs to be transparency.
“Follow your heart, break the rules, get it built.”
There was already a problem with gaps in the city, but the earthquakes Christchurch had made it worse—“the gaps now are that much bigger and will remain empty that much longer”. Gapfiller proposes that we use those spaces well. Temporary solutions that fill those gaps. The temporary offers us innovation. What incentives could there be for landowners to offer up their land? Possibly a rates rebate. A travelling bar in Melbourne works out of a shipping container. Pallet art fills a vacant space overseas. In a Christchurch gap: 31 bands played, 12 films were shown. The gaps were filled by poets, circus people, galleries. The vacant spaces were used. Gaps were filled.
The New Zealand economy is flexible and Christchurch is blessed with high value businesses. “We need to leverage innovations, skills, infrastructure and leadership.” “After the quake Christchurch will be better equipped, better skilled and still more innovative…”
James Howard Kunstler dissects suburbia. To make ourselves feel better we use nature band-aids. You know what the last sentence was at some design meetings—“fuck it”. Let’s build places worth caring about. There’s not enough Prozac in the world to make people feel okay about going down some blocks. We don’t have to have a craft fair to get people to come to good public spaces.
We must remember our past. Acknowledge those who have created our world. What was it that caused us to want to be here? Christchurch is the gateway to the South Island. This city is still open for business. AMI Stadium will be functioning in February. The university has over 2000 running courses with 15500 students enrolled. We have the amazing revamp of our airport. Let’s not scare the world away, discourage tourists from visiting or define ourselves by what happened on February 22nd. Let’s define ourselves by our response. When our children look back, the defining moment should be us understanding the importance of what we can do for our city, not what the city can do for us.
There’s nothing wrong with dreaming. People have dreamt about creating utopia for their city. Masdar city in Abu Dhabi will be carbon free, totally self sustainable with people traveling around by electric vehicles. Using shadow of buildings to cool spaces. Planned to be completed in 2016 but now 2020/2025 costing $22 billion USD. “Cities are not the problem, they are the solution” – Jaime Lerner.
10 principles of sustainable cities:
Rediscover the city
Redefine city value
Involve everyday experts
Break down silos
Redistribute urban decision making
De-design urban planning
Promote corporate urban responsibility
Embrace chaos, crisis and change
Encourage passion in urban leadership
She wants to come back and say ‘I can use Christchurch as an example for a sustainable city’. Cities are like living entities with a soul, heart, mind, body. We need to react in the short term but plan for the long term.
We all entered a world of uncertainty after February 22nd. But we also entered a world of opportunity. Huge collaboration and enormous leadership will be needed. Let’s have a clear and shared milestone. The uncertainty is around our homes and where we work.
Christchurch has about 190,000 homes. 5,000 with no insurance. There are homes over the $100,000 ECQ cap. 60% of those homes will be rebuilt. 40% repaired. There has been just under 300,000 building claims, meaning there’s been multiple claims because of the earthquake—it’s reached every house. Hugh Nicholson’s house (previous speaker) is ruined, but he’s still going. Questions homeowners have: will my house be rebuilt? Is the land okay? If I get relocated, where do I move to?
Building owners, tenants, workers and visitors are all linked.
Old data – 4,300 buildings in the city. 1,000 red stickered, 1,100 yellow stickered. Rest green. 42% of Colliers clients said their buildings were either demolished or red-stickered. Catching up on the fine print of insurance isn’t a happy time or conversation. Insurance and financials are complex for building owners. Without a city plan business owners can’t move forward.
How to create certainty? When is this going to happen? What’s the framework to put my framework around? A programme for building certainty should cover the home, workplace and playground.
10 step programme to building certainty
Land retirement decision – July 2011
Rebuild or repair decisions – December 2011
Residential zoning plan – February 2012
Deliver on ‘Project Restart’ – end of October 2011
Central city plan – February 2012. Probably the most critical plan ever developed.
Demolition penalties post – June 2012
Charter of seed CBD property owners – 2012 build
Government tenants commitments – 2012 build
Government contribution to QEII facility – February 2012
Government contribution to Arts & Entertainment precinct – February 2012
Greening the ghetto. In an emotionally charged talk, MacArthur-winning activist Majora Carter details her fight for environmental justice in the South Bronx — and shows how minority neighborhoods suffer most from flawed urban policy.
Wants to mobilize the young people in the city to rebuild Christchurch but maybe not in the usual way. The human spirit in the city is still strong but has taken a hit. The young people now have an opportunity to rebuild the human spirit of Christchurch.
Barriers for young people to help rebuild:
Isolation. We need to be connected.
Time. On top of school, job etc. It’s difficult for young people to get involved with the community.
Expectations (of themselves). It doesn’t have to be massive.
Dan’s one year t-shirt challenge challenges young people to wear the same shirt for a year (Dan has an ‘I am Dan’ shirt), get sponsored for doing it and donate money to the causes they care about. The city is being rebuilt for young people and the generations after. Even if your idea is simple—like wearing the same t-shirt for a year, run with it.
Grant explains what walking is to a passing car who thinks he and his kids were walking because their car must be broken down. Kids of today are used to sitting—the new normal. Sitting in front of the TV, in cars—to school etc. Children are 30% less active on weekends.
Grant’s children’s school is putting a fence around the school to keep predators out. They’ve never had a problem with predators. They have a staggered end time because of the huge amount of parents picking up their kids in cars.
Kids need to be outdoors and in constant motion. When you confine kids they suffer badly in all ways. Our kids might be the first generation in human history that was a shorter life span than their parents do. The paradox of this risk aversion is in the long run they’re less able to handle risk. The prefrontal cortex develops during childhood. When is risk better developed? When a kid is six and climbing up a tree, or at 15 behind the wheel of a Subaru. Five when they’re having a fight with the kid next door, or learning about fighting when they’re 25 at a bar. When there’s a huge benefit from a risk, it’s a no brainer. Successful parenting should be based on the number of band-aids used that week, not how many activities you’ve taken them too. The kids are up for it. The parents should be too. It’s easy—hang the car keys up, open the backdoor, kick the kids out and open a bottle of chardonnay. Free range parenting is essential for kids’ health and development.
How did we get here? We became car dependent and built cities for cars and not people. We can redevelop Christchurch where local living is normal. Where kids have a place and permission to range around the neighborhood. We saw this immediately after the earthquake. The children came outside because there was no TV, computer. Neighborhoods connected when utilities were off. Let’s re-imagine Christchurch as a city that doesn’t have just physical change, but social change too. Let’s lead New Zealand into this change. We’re not building the city for us, but for our children, their children and their children again.
“Let’s compare San Fransisco to Hamilton”. If our vision of Christchurch is like Hamilton with a smaller river people won’t want to come here. It’s worth being iconic rather than boring. Grant compared Wollongong vs the Gold Coast and Leicester vs Oxford and said that “cities that are innovative, creative and iconic thrive whereas those that are boring do not”. Some cities are such great places to live that people choose to live in the city and commute outside it for work. Grant asked who was here that wasn’t born in Christchurch. A huge majority. They’ve moved and stayed here. We’d be poorer if it wasn’t for those people. When you have a full CBD great ideas come to life.
We should cross off anything that is too expensive, but also anything that’s too boring. People need to want to say to each other once we’re done “have you heard about Christchurch city?” because of how great it is.
We don’t want to be known as the city that got slapped by a couple of earthquakes, but the city that came roaring back from them.
Danish architect Bjarke Ingels rockets through photo/video-mingled stories of his eco-flashy designs. His buildings not only look like nature — they act like nature: blocking the wind, collecting solar energy — and creating stunning views.
Let’s change the idea that a sustainable city is a boring city. The Chinese character for crisis is made up of the Chinese characters danger and opportunity. Christchurch has an opportunity. Bjarke sent a personal message to the audience at TEDxEQChCh that was very well received by the crowd.
Sacha got the audience to hug their neighbors in the audience. She said that’s what it felt like after the earthquake. The project of rebuilding is ours. We are our own creators. We’re talking to the powers that be. 10,000 people had a linear conversation with the powers that be last weekend at Share An Idea. They have to make decisions that will affect us and our children based on that linear conversation. CERA is populated with good and talented people. This is going to be a decade or more of a collective journey to our future. We have the common trajectory of a sustainable and vibrant city. We’re here not just for recovery, but for transformation and change. We have already experienced the incredibly moving experience of the Christchurch pledge.
How do we want our children to learn, play, know each other?
“Democracy—some assembly required.” “One original thought is worth a thousand mindless quotings.” “Collaboration is the new black.” “What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people, it is people.”
You know you live in Christchurch when…:
Every house is a crack house.
Where’s my [item]? It’s on the floor.
A group of students appear on your street and you don’t call the police.
Comedy is watching something happen to someone else. But what if something bad happens to you?
Christchurchians used comedy in the weeks after the quake too, with the ‘You know you live in Christchurch when…’ Facebook group and with the ‘Show us your long drop’ website. A giant rock destroys your house? Are you angry? Yeah. But do you sell the rock on Trade Me in a hilarious auction? Hell yeah.
Things Andie has learned from the earthquake:
The Earth is made up of plates.
Earthquakes were once measured using the Richter scale. In Christchurch we use the HMDIJPIMP scale—the ‘How much did I just piss in my pants scale’.
Drop cover and hold is still the recommended advice from Civil Defence. If you’re in Christchurch, when there’s a 3.0 and over you pause. 4.0 over you pause and hold… your wine glass. 5.0 you pause, hold your wine and put a status update on Facebook. When there’s a 6.0 and over you drop, cover, hold, and scream.
It’s now okay to go to the toilet in your neighbors backyard.
Trips to the doctor are free if they’re earthquake related.
People with 4WDs are now getting to go off road everyday. When they go to work, the shops or back out of their drive.
Yoga is a really good way to calm my nerves, except when we have 5.3, downward facing dog becomes outside screaming scardy cat.
A new drink: gin and tectonic. Pour gin. Wait for earthquake. Gin and tectonic.
When a 100 litre fish tank explodes on the floor, highly carbonated Soda Stream water is not the best way to save a catfish.
Laughter gives us distance. It allows us to step back from an event, deal with it and move on.
We need to change the language we use: ”In the first quake the city got munted. It’s fucked now.”
“There’s no justice in the world. The ugly buildings are still standing. Can you give me a bunch of red stickers so I can run through town and slap them on all the ugly buildings?” “What you’ve created instead of American Pie is a huge donut. A bit stodgy on the outside, a little sweet on the inside, but not good for you. In the middle, fuck all.”
Let’s create new green networks based on nature. Give power back to the communities. Let them be self-reliant. Not being able to build on a space isn’t the end of the world. Gives freedom for open spaces.
Dresden, Germany and Hiroshima both came back from disasters. Remember that leaving memories is okay.
Is it worth resetting, rethinking, rediscovering, re-visioning, regenerating, renewing? Evolution is gone. There’s the opportunity to build a new.
“We live in faceless suburbia—blank meaningless little boxes. Retail centres with no soul. It’s disgusting and offensive and it’s wrecked the CBD. A district plan that is full of rules and regulations yet still delivers terrible outcomes. We have a city of commuters and consumers—is that an aspiration? We can create a city of communities.”
Let’s reinforce the villages. Make them real. Let’s turn ourselves away from the car.
With minimal cars you start to see the street. Not being able to build on a space isn’t the end of the world. Gives freedom for open spaces. Forget the CBD.
We’ve got the money, skill, passion and talent to create places to love and live in. There’s opportunity for new beginnings.
Christchurch is undergoing a crash course in disaster planning and urban reconstruction. What happens to Christchurch is important to all of us, even if we live half a world away. Other countries will be watching our response for when it’s their time.
Things breathe where they could not otherwise breathe.
Stay warm where they would otherwise freeze.
Stay cool where they would otherwise be too hot.
Reproduce where they could not.
We build like a bird builds. We need to. When buildings come down it’s personal to us.
Buildings serve many purposes. The rate of change is really really fast. Cities are ecosystems.
Let’s encourage accidental meetings.
“The entire planet is becoming a village, and as a result, the smallest neighborhood or precinct must be planned as a working model of the larger world.” — Lewis Mumford
Most economists are ecologically illiterate.
We’re going through a fundamental change in society. The highest priority is fundamental change to the economy, moving towards the localization of economic activity.
Opening up the economy of Ladakh with subsidized food, roads and fuel brought in from thousands of miles away destroyed the local market. There was unemployment and friction between people.
Worldwide there’s a split between the government and the interests of their people. The governments are pursuing an economic model that’s outdated. More trade, more export, more foreign investment—they say is the formula for prosperity.
The most inspiring movement is towards local food. People have 10x more conversations while shopping in the Farmer’s Market than in the supermarket.
A kinder, gentler philosophy of success. Alain de Botton examines our ideas of success and failure — and questions the assumptions underlying these two judgments. Is success always earned? Is failure? He makes an eloquent, witty case to move beyond snobbery to find true pleasure in our work.
According to your answer to ‘what do you do?’ people are either incredibly delighted to see you or seem to have something else to do. It should be a sin to come to a conclusion on who you should talk to based on their business card.
When you next see someone driving a Ferrari, don’t think they’re greedy, think that they’re vulnerable and need love.
We don’t envy The Queen. She’s weird. She speaks in a funny way.
There’s basically two kinds of self-help books: you can do it, you can make it, anything’s possible. And how to cope with low self-esteem.
The words ‘unfortunate’ vs. ‘loser’: we’re changing the belief in whose responsible for our lives. We’re in the driver’s seat. If you’re doing well that’s great. If you’re not, it leads to increased rates of suicide. People take what happens to them extremely seriously. They own their success but they also own their failure.
Someone may have slept with the wrong person. Taken the wrong substance. Passed the wrong legislation.
Success might be seen as having money or being renowned. You can’t be successful at everything. You can’t have it all. Any success has a loss. There’s going to be an element where we’re not successful.
Alain de Botton sent this message to TEDxEQChCh:
I don’t for a minute doubt that your TEDx is going to be a fascinating and highly useful affair. At a time of unprecedented upheaval and pain, ideas – which are at the heart of what TED does – are what will pull us all through and give meaning and direction to our efforts. I so wish I could have been with you today.
Connecting with the community is great. TEDxEQChCh is awesome because it’s Independently organized so everyone’s views can be shared.
Knows that it’s extremely important what Gerry Brownlee etc. are doing. Showed footage of San Francisco’s 1989 earthquake. Said he is going to offer some common experiences that he went through and the city went through with the long term recovery process and the politics.
Start with strong building codes. Fight bureaucracy. Alternative channels of communication might have to be used.
Money is an issue. Red Cross raised $70 million dollars. Art only saw it being used on coffee, donuts and blankets. The rest of the money was in a bank far away. He had to fight to get access to the money donated to the city.
There’s always another alternative. When the city needed to use the convention center that was housing homeless people, they moved them to an aircraft carrier. The rooms and sleeping space were too small, but other crew areas were found on the ship that would be suitable.
Their City Hall is much like our Cathedral except it was badly damaged and didn’t collapse. Each piece of the building was marked, photographs were taken and it was taken apart piece by piece. The pieces were stored and rollers were installed in the foundations of the building so it would roll with the tremors. The building was then reassembled.
After watching people standing in lines trying to get access back into their homes for just a few minutes they invented new techniques on the spot. All their residences were tagged red yellow and green like Christchurch’s. If someone insisted on going into building and signed a waiver, they could go in for 15 minutes. It was a risk, but was important to kick start recovery process. People felt they were regaining control over their lives.
Soft take down measures were put in place. Residents could stand in the street and watch the building be demolished and taken down. They were allowed to search through the wreckage of the building floor by floor for things that they missed in the 15 minutes they had in their house when it was standing. The rubble from each house was stored separately in a landfill so homeowners had another chance to go through it. People need to be put first in the recovery process and these were important steps.
Strong emotions weren’t limited just to people who just lost their homes. They got children to write down feelings. People still go back and revisit what was written down.
They revamped their emergency plans with the understanding of what people will do to help others in their neighborhoods after a disaster. All sorts of people from neighborhoods were trained in teams and given valuable rescue and leadership skills.
Perhaps the greatest thing in long term recovery is not to automatically assume things should be put back the way they were.
The capital for a politician is popularity and it comes with doing good and meaningful things for the community, not just things to get themselves reelected. Art ended up losing a reelection after making tough decisions for the long term success of his city. The time frame for important decisions doesn’t necessarily line up with the election time frame.
He said to use the ideas we’ve heard all day. Fix the broken places in the city. And then the whole room stood to take an oath to promise to leave the city better than it was when we came into it.
We know that we’re not forgotten when people like Art come to talk to us.
The speakers the sponsors, the organizing committee, the volunteers. Wow. Thank you from everyone who was at TEDxEQChCh.